Dreaming of El Duque

According to this story on MLB.com, Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman, the 21-year-old free agent who throws 100 miles an hour, is auditioning for the Yankees and other interested teams in Houston on Tuesday. Will he live up to the hype? Or will he underwhelm everybody, as he did in his last stint with the Cuban team in the WBC?
One thing is certain: he’s not ready for the majors. He’ll need seasoning and won’t be slotted into anybody’s starting rotation right away. He’s got the obligatory diamond stud earrings though, ready or not.
Obviously, I don’t have a clue whether the Yankees will sign Chapman or for how much. We’ve had mixed results with Cuban pitchers. Contreras was an expensive flop. I still get nightmares whenever I think of him walking batters, serving up bombs, and looking distraught in the process.
I also remember him sweating more profusely than any ballplayer alive. I always wanted to reach through the TV and towel him off.
Thinking the problem might be loneliness, Cashman and the Yankees finagled a way for him to be reunited with his family here in the States.
It didn’t do any good, and before long Jose was shipped off to the White Sox. He won a World Series with Chicago but has since been traded to the Rockies. He and New York weren’t a match – unlike Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, who owned the city for awhile.
I remember vividly when El Duque defected from Cuba and arrived in the Bronx. I’d never seen anybody like him.
I mean, can you contort into that position? Only if you’re a pretzel.
Sure, he was hot tempered, and he and Jorge got into it on occasion. And sure, no one really knew how old he was.
But there was a time when he was pure magic for the Yankees – the toast of the town. It’s saying something when a major sporting goods company produces a TV commercial in your honor starring David Cone. (Love the cameo by Luis Sojo).
Does Chapman have the potential to be an El Duque? Or will he follow the trajectory of Contreras? This is why GMs, not bloggers, make the big bucks.


  1. thefreak

    That was quite the twist m’lady. Looking at the future in a “past” kind of way. PURE GENIUS! You should be a writer. LOL

    I’m sure with the correct tutalidge (sp), this kid could be great. Like always, there’s room for failure.

    Its one thing to throw 100mph. Its another to actually control it.

    STEP RIGHT UP AND PLACE YOUR BETS!!!!! I will just wait and see what happens.


  2. dschaub@gpo.gov

    Wow, Jane — as always, you do yer homework! Don’t know how you find these guys ‘n’ that stuff, but it’s GRREAT. That video of Cone & Co. is priceless!! What I do remember is how we outbid Bahston for Contreras, and then they went east to get Dice K…in those bad, bad old days that used to be…but that’s OK. Yeah, I wouldn’t leap to sign this guy either…remember that young fireballer we had — was his name Brian Taylor? — an American who couldn’t miss, until he threw his arm out or got in a bar fight, or all of the above? They need seasoning…esp. when coming from other countries & cultures & languages. Or at least a proper indoctrination in American beisbol from the She-Fan…!

  3. Jane Heller

    I should be a writer, Mike. Instead of working on these posts at night, I should be working on my novel! But I can’t help myself. And I think it will be interesting to see what happens with Chapman and which team will be willing to ante up for him.

    I agree, Paul. If the Yankees can get Chapman for much less than he was originally asking for (or his agent was asking for), then maybe they’ll take a shot.

    I adore that video, Rob. After I found it, I played it six times. The expression on Coney’s face at the end in the men’s room was priceless.

  4. Jane Heller

    I think it was George who was desperate for Contreras, Dave. And in those days if he wanted somebody, Cashman went out and got him. Brien Taylor was a cautionary tale – all that money and he never even pitched. At least Chapman seems more motivated. He defected twice to get here, so I think he means business.

  5. yankeeholics

    I dont think that Chapman will be nearly as good as El Duque and if the Yankees sign him and he stinks then everything will have gone wrong for NYY.

    Lackey is close to signing with the Red Sux
    Godzilla might be red. Just not with the sox.
    Roy Halladay is close to being a Phillie


  6. 26andcounting

    I have a blog on MLBlogs but I’m thinking of starting a new one on Blogger. I was trying to come up with ideas for a new name (b/c mine is out-dated!) and came up with Pinstripe Fever. I did some Google searches to see if this blog name already existed and found no results. However, I though I’d ask you, an avid blogger with a large fan base, if you knew of a blog by this title. I just want to make extra sure because I don’t want to take something that belongs to someone else, if that’s the case.
    Thank you very much!!

  7. Jane Heller

    Leah, I haven’t seen any blogs called “Pinstripe Fever.” And if you did a Google search and it didn’t turn up anything, you’re probably OK. It’s hard to keep all the names straight! Best of luck with it. Looking forward to seeing it.

  8. JQuist

    *I definently miss the El Duque days… That was a name drop and half lol. If Chapman travels elsewhere, there’s still plenty of solid pitchers in the pool that the Yankees can land for the 2010 season. Some major trades went down today actually – check out my latest update when you get a chance guys:


  9. irishsoxkid19

    Yeah, I read that the Sox were trying to get Mr Excellent. My nickname for him. Hey, he’s pretty good. Anyways, yeah, I wish us bloggers got the big bucks as well. We’re better GM’s sometimes, criticizing the team’s mistakes, and the transactions that are made. If only.

  10. Jane Heller

    Why are my responses to comments constantly appearing out of order? AAAARGH. Sorry about that.

    Apparently, the Red Sox made an offer to Chapman today, JQuist, according to an unconfirmed ESPN report. And then there are the trades/signings you’re probably talking about. Quite a day for the Hot Stove!

  11. Jane Heller

    Holly, we do have good instincts about our teams. But I wouldn’t want to be a GM for anything. Much too stressful if you make the wrong decision!

  12. mel.tmottbg@gmail.com

    Yikes! Though we just don’t know how Lackey will fit in in Boston. Sometimes I think it’s almost tougher mentally there. And he does seem to have a mental issue.

    And US weekly is reporting that ARod and Kate have split. (I got the scoop from LoHud.) Maybe that’s why she giggled so much on Letterman. Good thing you didn’t see her at that party Jane!

    Thanks for the memories with El Duque and that commercial. It used to air all the time and made me smile every time!


  13. Jane Heller

    I guess we’ll find out how Lackey will fit in in Boston, Melissa. I’m sure we’ll face him in the first series of the season. I was tipped off to the A-Rod/Kate split on Twitter today and while I didn’t expect the relationship to last, I did award her the She-Fan Award for Best Girlfriend. The least she could have done was stick with him a little longer!

  14. mel.tmottbg@gmail.com

    Yeah, she just stuck around long enough to get the award and then she left! Some women will do anything for a She Fan award!

  15. arthur.kathleen@gmail.com

    So, to sum up the day – Halladay to Philly, Lackey to Boston, Cliff Lee to Seatle and A-Rod/Kate split up! A lot to take in!
    Hey, aren’t we interested in pitchers too? Or does Cashman feel we have our perfect pitching staff? Someone new like Chapman needs to be vetted before we buy. Just because he has stuff doesn’t imply he has control. Does anyone know if Philly has Roy locked up after next year? Like I said a few days ago, let’s wait for King Felix!
    I’m a knitter, and in the knitting world there is something called the curse of the love sweater. What happens is after you spend 100 hours and $120 knitting a sweater for a significant other, they leave you. Maybe there is a curse of the She-fan award for Yankee girlfriends! Guess Minka lucked out! LOL!

  16. carrollj27@comcast.net

    OMG I am cracking up over this one!!!!! The El Duque commercial was priceless – Luis Sojo: “Hey Coney, why don’t JOOO have a dance?” Also – yes!! I used to think the same thing re Contreras – this guy was the real-life Albert Brooks… Finally, the old guy in the straw hat…who BTW needs to be introduced to your dentist…hell, ANY dentist…

    Ok – to the business at hand – Lackey is gone, Halladay is gone, Matsui is gone. Matsui is a pro’s pro, and Jeter’s favorite player (did you know that?)…he will be missed but as you pointed out in the OF blog, there’s no room left at the Inn (hey, ’tis the season). So, now I think the priority becomes a 4th-5th starter, or a strong bullpen arm (i’m intrigued by Matt Capps) so as to move Hughes or Joba to rotation. Then maybe try to re-sign Damon, but prob not til late in the offseason, once Boras turns him into this year’s Abreu. Whaddya think, Jane? Or does Cash have another trick up his sleeve??? John

  17. Jane Heller

    Yeah, she only stuck around for the S-F Award, Melissa. I feel so used! Actually, what I feel is that she may have broken up with A-Rod but she also broke up with US!

    Good sum-up, Kathleen. You got it all in. I love the “curse of the love sweater.” See what I learn on this blog? We knitted the sweater for Kate and then she left us. Rotten. Just rotten.

    That line from Sojo was sooo priceless, John. It cracks me up every time. And you remember Contreras going all Albert Brooks too? LOL! I thought Cashman’s priority always was a 4th-5th starter – until the Granderson trade. Now he’d better get back on point because we need another arm in the rotation. I’m less concerned with the bullpen, figuring either Joba or Hughes will be in it. Damon could be this year’s Abreu; I’d love to see that happen. But if Cashman has another trick up his sleeve, it’s lost on me. Who’s left to surprise us with?

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